If you’re a fan of soccer and enjoy playing the game for fun or exercise, then doing it with your dog makes it even better!
Like us, dogs need regular exercise to stay healthy. Playing soccer with your pooch helps Fido get the exercise he needs while having fun spending time with you. Just one problem: dogs don’t know what soccer is, let alone how to play it!
Yep, this much is true…
Which is why it’s up to you to teach your dog how to play the game.
Dogs can play with pretty much anything, but a ball ranks high up there with a squeaky toy or a frisbee. The fact that dogs are already huge fans of balls makes teaching your pooch soccer a no-brainer!
But it’s not that easy.
Like any dog trick, it takes time and practice to teach your dog how to play soccer. Here are a few tips on teaching Fluffy how to play soccer the right way.
10 Tips to Follow Before Teaching Your Dog How to Play Soccer
Tip 1 – Always try to keep the lessons short, sweet and fun. Avoid yelling or getting flustered when Rover doesn’t get it.
Tip 2 – Keep in mind that not all dog breeds can or want to play soccer. This is very important! Most medium to large breeds can play without any issues, but toy breeds and smaller dogs might not.
Tip 3 – If you have a large dog with a strong bite, you should make sure to inflate the ball fully so he can’t bite it.
Tip 4 – Medium to large breeds can use a regular size soccer ball. Smaller breeds need a smaller ball, but one that won’t fit in their mouth.
Tip 5 – Always reward your dog with treats every time she does something right.
Tip 6 – Buy a clicker. Clicker training is effective because the sound a clicker makes (paired with a treat) lets your dog know that he’s doing the right thing.
Tip 7 – Lay down a carpet if you’re playing indoors, or choose a grassy area when you’re out. This will make sure that the ball doesn’t go far. You’ll be the one chasing it after all!
Tip 8 – Set up a soccer net or goal for the ball. If you have an old one lying around, that’s good. Even a child’s soccer goal would work. If there’s none, set up a chair and tie a towel around the legs. By the end of soccer training, your dog should learn that the whole point of the activity is to get the ball in the net.
Tip 9 – If you and your dog are having more fun kicking the ball to each other as opposed to scoring a goal, that’s fine. Exercise and spending time with your mutt is more important than scoring a goal.
Tip 10 – Encourage your dog to use her nose to “kick” the ball. If she uses her paws or any other part of her body to push the ball, stop and reset the game.
Following these tips will make soccer training a little easier on both you and your dog. Having the right mindset before training your pooch will help lower your expectations. Setting up the environment with the proper tools (right ball size, carpets) will also help your dog succeed.
Finally, you’ll need to grab yourself a dog-proof soccer ball. The sharp teeth from your dog will quickly pop a traditional soccer ball, one that is made for humans to kick.
Now, let’s see if we can teach your dog some moves so he can be the next Ronaldo. Ready for some soccer?
Teaching Your Dog How to Play Soccer
- Choose a word like “goal” or “ball” to let him know it’s time to play soccer. Use this word every time you want your dog to push the ball. Use a clicker and give a reward after he does well.
- Make sure your dog is watching you. Get your dog’s favorite treat and place it in his bowl. Place the soccer ball on top of the food.
- Let your dog near the bowl and allow him to figure out how to move the soccer ball so he can get the treat. If Fido doesn’t get it, show him by pushing the ball away with your hand (showing the treat) and placing it back on top. Don’t forget to use the word for soccer.
- When your pooch understands how to move the ball out of the way using his nose, use the clicker to let him know he did well. Repeat this process a few times using the clicker so your dog will understand that the clicker means he did right and the food is waiting.
- Now, place the ball on the grass or carpet and put a treat under it. Your dog should be able to use his nose to move the ball to get the treat. Don’t forget to use the clicker!
- Once your dog shows enough consistency moving the ball using his nose, stop placing a treat under the ball and reward him by hand. Repeat this a few times until he gets the hang of it. Don’t use the clicker or give any reward if your dog doesn’t use his nose to push the ball!
- When Fido becomes an expert at pushing the ball with his nose, it’s time to teach him to drive the ball into a soccer goal. Place the ball outside the net and place your hand on top of it. Then, use the word you chose for the soccer game, (“goal”), and wait for his nose to touch the ball.
- Time your release so that the ball goes into the net. Keep on practicing by placing the ball farther and farther from the goal. Use the clicker, give a reward and praise your dog.
Congratulations, your dog scored his first goal!
Soccer is Good for You and Your Dog on so Many Levels
The great thing about playing soccer with your dog is that you can do it either indoors or outdoors. There’s no excuse not to exercise and have fun with your pooch even when the weather’s terrible. All you need is a carpet or a few yoga mats, and you’re golden!
Of course, playing outdoors is always ideal because of the fresh air and natural vitamin D from the sun. The outdoors is also full of sights, sounds, and experiences that make all dogs happy. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there with your dog and play some soccer!